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Taiwan doctors charged with SARS cover-up

Two Taiwan doctors have been charged with covering up SARS cases that allowed the deadly virus to spread through a Taipei hospital…

Two Taiwan doctors have been charged with covering up SARS cases that allowed the deadly virus to spread through a Taipei hospital, leading to the island's first and worst outbreak.

The Ho Ping hospital infections in April helped turn the island into the world's third-worst hit area after China and Hong Kong, with 697 infections and 83 deaths.

"The investigation shows the defendants neglected their duties and failed to take necessary infection control measures, causing the deaths of several medical workers and allowing the epidemic to spread," Taipei District Court prosecutor Chen Hon-da told a news conference.

"Their negligence traumatises the families of the victims, affects the country's international image and economic development," he said, reading the bill of indictment.

The World Health Organisation lifted a month-long warning against travel to the island yesterday. Taiwan reported no new SARS infections for a third straight day today.

Whispers of hospital cover-ups started to make the rounds in May after Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian ordered an investigation into why the Ho Ping outbreak had been allowed to continue unchecked.

More than 90 per cent of Taiwan's SARS cases were linked to hospital infections, leading to five hospitals and several doctors being fined for covering up cases.